Comcast Adds 43K Video Subs in Q4

Just one day after reports surfaced that it might assist Charter Communications in its pursuit of Time Warner Cable, Comcast released strong fourth quarter results, including a basic subscriber gain that far outpaced analysts’ expectations.

Comcast had said earlier in the month that it would report a modest increase in basic video customers in the fourth quarter, which some analysts estimated should be about 10,000 to 20,000 subscribers. In releasing its actual results Tuesday morning, Comcast far outpaced those estimates, adding 43,000 basic video customers in the period.

In addition, Comcast added 379,000 high-speed data customers and 227,000 phone subscribers in the period.

Yesterday reports surfaced that Comcast was close to an agreement to purchase systems in New York City, New England and North Carolina from Charter Communications if the latter is successful in its attempt to acquire Time Warner Cable. Charter launched a $61.3 billion bid for TWC on Jan. 13, which was rejected. The Stamford, Conn.-based cable operator is trying to drum up TWC shareholder support for a deal.

Those improved results helped boost revenue by 5.2% and operating cash flow by 4.8% at its cable operation. Consolidated revenue rose 6.2% to $16.9 billion and consolidated OCF was up 7% in the period.

“Our results highlight the momentum we have achieved and how we are benefitting from scale, our investment in innovative products, and from our focus on operational excellence,” Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement. “Cable's operating metrics improved across video, high-speed Internet and voice for both the 4th quarter and full year, with a return to video subscriber growth in the 4th quarter. NBCUniversal had an outstanding year, with growth in Broadcast, Cable, Film and Parks. As we begin 2014, we remain excited about our businesses and intend to continue to prudently invest to enhance our strategic differentiation and to drive growth."

Comcast also increased its annual dividend by 15.4% to 90 cents per share and increased its share buyback authorization to $7.5 billion, with $3 billion to be repurchased in 2014, subject to market conditions.